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Presbyterian Caucuses speak out against president’s travel ban

Groups join PC(USA) Stated Clerk in opposition to executive order

by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

Refugees and migrants walk through the Hungarian town of Hegyeshalom on their way to the border where they will cross into Austria. Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants flowed through Hungary in 2015, on their way from Syria, Iraq and other countries to western Europe. The ACT Alliance has provided critical support for refugee and migrant families here and in other places along their journey. (Photo by Paul Jeffrey)

Refugees and migrants walk through the Hungarian town of Hegyeshalom on their way to the border where they will cross into Austria. Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants flowed through Hungary in 2015, on their way from Syria, Iraq and other countries to western Europe. The ACT Alliance has provided critical support for refugee and migrant families here and in other places along their journey. (Photo by Paul Jeffrey)

LOUISVILLE – The National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus (NMEPC) has written an open letter (below) to President Trump opposing the ban on immigrants imposed on seven predominately Muslim countries. Enforcement of the executive order was halted by a Washington state judge last Friday and is currently under judicial review.

The NMEPC letter states, “We note that the ban on legally vetted refugees, students, business people, and visitors because of ethnic, national origin, and religious affiliation is a stark reminder of oppression and discrimination of past evils the U.S. must pledge never to repeat. For we as a nation have inflicted enough death and destruction and visited enough evils on native tribes and African peoples as well as many other migrant populations. Both the Christian faith and the constitution of the United States of America prevent us from singling out nations such as the ones banned by your directives, as we see in such a demonizing and dehumanizing the ‘other’ based on fear and unfounded threat of terror.”

The letter reiterates the sentiments of the PC(USA) Stated Clerk and the Presbytery of New York City against Trump’s action limiting refugees into the U.S. from Muslim-majority countries including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Magdy Girgis, Associate for Middle Eastern Intercultural Ministries, in the Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency says, “When I ask myself who is my neighbor and whom am I a neighbor to, I answer, everyone. Anyone I meet in life is my neighbor. Anyone God puts in my path, that’s my neighbor. So anyone seeking refuge, or to be united with family members, those are my neighbor. They should be welcomed to this country without fear of being sent back to unsafe, war torn countries.”

In addition to the letter from the NMEPC, The National Black Presbyterian Caucus (NBPC) issued a press release February 6 titled, “Trump’s ban on Immigrants from Muslim-Majority countries is wrong.”

NBPC opposes the Trump Administration’s ban based on theological and biblical foundations and referred to The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Confession of 1967 that says, “God has created the people of the earth to be one universal family. In his reconciling love, he overcomes the barriers between brothers (and sisters) and breaks down every form of discrimination based on racial or ethnic difference, real or imaginary.”

 Leaders from Great Britain to Canada and around the world have reacted and weighed in on the president’s executive orders. CNN reports that Iran’s Foreign Minister called Trump’s immigration order “insulting” and a “gift to extremists.” Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson described the ban as “divisive and wrong,” and London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the move was “shameful and cruel.”

The letter from the National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus is contained here in its entirety. Click here to read the press release from the National Black Presbyterian Caucus.

—–

The Honorable Donald J Trump, President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus, the Executive Committee writes to express concerns regarding two issues, namely the ban on settling refugees, and the singling out of seven countries in the Middle East & North Africa regions (MENA).

As Christians (Presbyterians), the Bible that grounds our commitment teaches us “faith, hope, and love abide, and the greatest of these is love” (1Corinthians 13:13). We urge you to reconsider the above-mentioned Executive Order, for we see Christ in the stranger and we welcome Jesus in all refugees: “For I [Jesus] was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:35, 36). While we support the role of the government in security, we respectfully disagree with your approach to scapegoating refugees, students, businesspeople, tourists, and new immigrants. The Bible reminds us that Jesus and the Holy Family were once refugees, as were many of the patriarchs and matriarchs. As people of faith, we are admonished to heed how we treat the alien and the stranger in our midst: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers” (Hebrews 13:2).

We note that the ban on legally vetted refugees, students, business people, and visitors because of ethnic, national origin, and religious affiliation is a stark reminder of oppression and discrimination of past evils the U.S. must pledge never to repeat. For we as a nation have inflicted enough death and destruction and visited enough evils on native tribes and African peoples as well as many other migrant populations. Both the Christian faith and the constitution of the United States of America prevent us from singling out nations such as the ones banned by your directives, as we see in such a demonizing and dehumanizing the “other” based on fear and unfounded threat of terror.

Mr. President, as citizens of this nation we believe it is un-American to wage offensive and unprovoked wars, and to inflict destruction, poverty, and suffering on innocent populations. We urge you to reconsider the policies of the United States, in particular regarding the Middle East and North African (MENA), and to help lead this nation and the world to a better just and peaceful future.

Sincerely,

Rev. Raafat Zaki, Moderator


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